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Example research essay topic: Nature Vs Nurture Genetic Determinism - 1,381 words

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Nurture Versus Nature The question of what is the greatest factor in the development of human intelligence, sociability, interpersonal skills, and personality has been debated as long as modern humanity has had the capacity to wonder about it. Depending on the intellectual background or mindset of any individual asked, the answer will vary. Some social scientists and theorists argue in behalf of the effect of the environment in which a child is raised as the primary influence. Many of those most thoroughly grounded in medical or physical science traditions can point to a number of ways, in which ones genetic code at birth, is the determining factor of how well or how thoroughly one?

s intelligence develops. The proliferation of the so-called? genius? sperm banks that exist give proof to how seriously that premise is believed by many. Not surprisingly, the number and type of studies that exist correspond with the particular belief pattern, or at least is biased, in favor of the thoughts and belief patterns of the individual researcher. According to Bettelheim (1998), some researchers are looking for a genetic basis for common, everyday behaviors, including sexuality, violence, and risk-taking.

There is an ongoing debate, sometimes a heated one, over how much biology controls what a person does; the flip side of the debate asks whether society relies too much on science without enough focus on the undeniably important aspects of the parents and caregivers of a child to appropriately nurture his or her growth. Some feel the importance of social / economic conditions and life in the home is downplayed far too much. Advocates on the nurture side of the argument point to the fact that the input of the child? s role model is of far greater importance than any aspect of genetic make up. Of course, culture serves as yet another point of argument in the debate. Two sides of the issue exist in terms of cultural expectation for development of intelligence.

First is the idea that an infant, born into a more advanced culture and presented with a greater number of entrenched cultural opportunities, is certain to garner a greater level of intelligence. The opposite, and equal argument, is that innate intelligence is best developed in the infant born into a culture more holistically and intuitively developed, perhaps even? primitive? by some standards.

And yet, the issue of culture ultimately can be reduced to? nurture vs nature? as well. The cultural implications and training that surround a child?

s upbringing are certainly key components in how that child will be nurtured throughout childhood. Herbert (1997) points out that in many ways the view of mental illness as a brain disease has been of vital importance in the work to reduce the stigma of frightening and misunderstood illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression. And yet, it still serves as an example of the broad-based efforts to? biologie? American culture.

For both political and scientific reasons and it is generally difficult to separate the two everything from criminal behavior to substance abuse to sexual orientation is seen today less as a matter of choice than of genetic destiny. Even basic personality is proving out to be much more of a genetic inheritance than had ever been previously assumed. Almost every month, if not more often, there is a report of a new gene for one trait or another. Such a significant realignment of the cultural perception has numerous political and personal implications. At the individual level, according to Herbert (1997), a belief in the power of genes necessarily diminishes the potency of such personal qualities as will, capacity to choose, and sense of responsibility for those choices. The argument proposes that if ones actions are determined by ones individual?

s genes, he or she should not be considered accountable for... whatever! It allows the alcoholic, for example, to act as a helpless victim of biology rather than as a willful agent with independent behavioral control. Genetic determinism can free victims and their families from guitar lock them in their suffering.

Therein lies the root of the nature vs. nurture merry-go-round. Genetic determinism can have paradoxical consequences at times, leading to disdain and exclusion for the disadvantaged rather than sympathy and inclusion. Cultural critics are beginning to sort out the unpredictable politics of biology, focusing on four traits: violence, mental illness, alcoholism, and sexual orientation. Herbert (1997) also adds that whatever is currently going on in the midst of the bold new genetic discoveries being made, its clear that a very real mistrust of genetic power and genetic applications is both misleading and disconcerting, if not out-and-out frightening for the general public. The simplistic shorthand used in discussing genetic advances has led to the widespread misunderstanding of DNAs real powers.

In general, the public must be provided with more easily accessible information instead of moving toward the trend of? dumbing down? information for public consumption. Herbert (1997) gives the example of how geneticists say theyve found a gene for a particular trait, when what they actually mean is that people carrying a certain alleged variation in a stretch of DNA that normally codes for a certain protein will develop the given trait in a standard environment. The last few words a standard environment are very important, because what scientists are not saying is that a given allele will not necessarily lead to that trait in every environment. It is neither fair, nor ethical, for the public to be mislead into thinking that science has?

found the gene? that causes this or that problem so it can now be? fixed. ? Its hard to emphasize too much what a radical rethinking of the nature-nurture debate this represents.

When most people think about heredity, they still think in terms of classic genetics: one gene, one trait. But for most complex human behaviors, this is far from the reality that recent research is revealing. A more accurate view very likely involves many different genes, some of which control other genes, and many of which are controlled by signals from the environment. Therefore, actual biological / genetic make-up can be and is influenced by the level of nurturing that trait receives. The process of nurturing, however, may be environmental, emotional, or biological itself. The emerging view of nature nurture is that many complicated behaviors probably have some measure of genetic loading that gives some people a susceptibility for schizophrenia, for instance, or for aggression.

But the development of the behavior or pathology requires more an environmental second hit. This second hit operates, counter-intuitively, through the genes themselves to sculpt the brain. So with depression, for example, it appears as though a bad experience in the world for example, a devastating loss can actually create chemical changes in the body that affect certain genes, which in turn affect certain brain proteins that make a person more susceptible to depression in the future. Nature or nurture?

Just as bad experiences can turn on certain vulnerability genes, rich and challenging experiences have the power to enhance life, again acting through the genes. Perhaps certain genetic components are especially receptive to certain nurturing behaviors. For example, talent and intelligence, both appear extraordinarily malleable. The reason the debate regarding issues of nature opposed to issues of nurture has remained so controversial and such a hot debate topic is the simple fact that, with every new day, new information is discovered or understood. If the mechanical, human-created world of the Internet supposedly doubles its information every month, why should it be difficult to expect the collective human consciousness and awareness of genetic capabilities to follow similarly remarkable patterns of growth and development? Bettelheim, April (1998, April 3) Biology and behavior. , CQ Researcher, v 8 n 13, pp. 291 (18).

Gregory, Richard L. (1987) The Oxford Companion to the Mind (New York, NY; University of Oxford Press), pp. 376. Herbert, Wray (1997, April 21) Politics of biology: how the nature vs. nurture debate shapes public policy and our view of ourselves. , U. S.

News &# 038; World Report, v 122 n 15, pp. 72 (7). Mc Gue, Matt (1989, August 17) Nature-nurture and intelligence. , Nature, v 340 n 6234, pp. 507 (2). Zabludoff, Marc (1997, October) Behaving ourselves. , Discover, v 18, n 10, pp. 10.


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